Monday, October 20, 2014

SLOW DOWN AND LISTEN!

Sometimes I just have to laugh about the absurdity of my life.

I've been almost nonstop sick since the beginning of September. It started with the smoke in my dorm that was making it hard for me to breathe...it seems like that's come to an end for now. But a week or so after that ended, I came down with a cold that went to my chest. And then -- two days after I got over that cold, I kid you not, I came down with yet another cold.

This cold has been pretty rough. A few days into it, I completely lost my voice. When my voice came back, I lost my hearing in one of my ears (it's coming back though, finally!).

I'm sure a lot of you guys can relate to this, but losing my voice was an eye-opening experience. I didn't realize how much I take speaking for granted until I wasn't able to do it.

Most people were extremely understanding...others, not so much. My chemistry recitation professor (side note: he's English, you guys, so he says things like "trolley" instead of "cart" and "marks" instead of "grade") -- well, he fell into the "not so much" category. In recitation, we have to answer questions in front of the class, and when I could barely whisper the answer, he leaned forward.

"Speak up," he said. "Can't you speak?"

Honestly? Not really. I tried again.

"I can't HEAR you. You're going to have to yell," he said.

I tried to explain about my voice, but it was no use. So I gave up. I fell silent. He turned away.

I'm not blaming my professor; he's usually a nice guy, and I'm sure he just didn't realize that I couldn't speak.

But that got me thinking about people for whom this isn't temporary. What about people with disabilities that make it difficult for them to articulate their thoughts? How many of them give up because other people turn away? How many of them cannot share their thoughts with the world because the world is unable -- or unwilling -- to slow down, to understand, to listen?

My voice came back, but some people always need to speak in different ways.  It might take an extra moment, a little more effort and concentration to understand them, but that doesn't make their words invalid; that doesn't mean that they're not worth hearing.

So here's my PSA to the world: SLOW DOWN AND LISTEN.

4 comments:

  1. Can I just gush how much I admire you. I do not know many of us who can take being sick (again???) and turning it into a positive PSA. But as always you see the rainbows and not the storm. Which is simply awesome.

    You have a unique and powerful skill. To create equality and empathy with your voice and words. It makes you a powerful advocate. I hope you can see that .

    On a mother hen note, start drinking more OJ and maybe take Zicam. I swear by the Zicam, David swears by the OJ. Rest up and feel better soon!

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  2. Aw, thank you, Kerri! The feeling is mutual!

    And thanks for the tips!! I will definitely try that next time...fingers crossed that I don't catch another cold anytime soon, because I've definitely had more than my share! ;)

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  3. Very well written article! My son's CP sometimes causes speech issues for him, and people need to slow down and listen to hear what he has to say. He has plenty to say! One of our pastors always says that my son is here to teach others to relax and be patient.

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  4. This is the reality for many autistic little ones who have not yet found a way to communicate that works for them. I read so many of their blogs and it is so clear how much of their young lives was lived in frustration before they were able to share their thoughts. If you get the chance you should check some of them out.

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